Victory seemed to be slipping away from the Canadiens. They allowed two leads to vanish, a two-goal lead after two periods and a one-goal advantage with less than eight minutes to go. Carey Price was being bombarded by pucks, the Canadiens were being bombarded by chances, and the Bruins were feeling it.
But despite everything — the two comebacks, the 98-58 advantage in shot attempts on net for the Bruins — it was the Canadiens who survived the double-overtime Game 1 at TD Garden, picking up a 4-3 win on the second power-play goal of the game for defenseman P.K. Subban.
“I thought we dominated the game,” Jarome Iginla said. “I thought even when they got out to a lead, we had chance after chance. They were just a tough opponent — some nights that happens.
“Tip your hat. Goalies were very good tonight. But at the same time we had chances that on other nights they go in. It [stinks] not winning that one, but we played well and, like I said, I thought we controlled that game. We play that way, we’ll get some good results.”
That was the feeling in the home dressing room in the moments after Subban’s shot beat Tuukka Rask. There was disappointment, sure. There also was the knowledge that they had gotten the better of the Canadiens in just about every category, except the one that ultimately matters.
“I thought we carried play for the most part, and obviously in that first OT period,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Probably the only thing is, we’ve got to find a way to bury those great opportunities that we had. That’s probably where there’s some regrets there.”
In the end, the problems for the Bruins were twofold: the penalty kill and Price.
In overtime, the Bruins survived one penalty, tripping by Daniel Paille, at 19:33 of the first OT. But they couldn’t survive two, with Subban scoring seven seconds into a holding penalty on Matt Bartkowski.
“You need your PK to step up,” Rask said. “We didn’t in the beginning, and those things happen. Just a floater from the blue line, and I couldn’t catch it. It [stinks].”
He added, “We played overall a good five on five, pretty much dominated it. A lot of chances. But I was [awful] today. I’ve got to do better. I made some saves. I just couldn’t make the game-savers.”
As for Price, he was all the Canadiens could have wanted. The goaltender was brilliant, making 48 stops on a whopping 51 shots the Bruins put on net, including 14 each in the third period and the first overtime.
Said Rask, “I think as a team we deserved to win. But from a goalie standpoint, I thought Price played a lot better than I did.”
“He played well,” said defenseman Torey Krug, who tied the score at 2-2. “He made the saves he needed to win the game. We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of pucks that were laying around him.
“We didn’t do a great job of making sure our sticks were heavy around their net. Their defensemen were picking our guys up. Seemed like it was a little bit too easy for them. But that’s just how the game goes sometimes.”
The three that Price didn’t stop — all in the third period — allowed the Bruins to come back. After going down, 2-0 — on a power-play score by Subban at 11:23 of the first and a Rene Bourque goal off a bad pass from Johnny Boychuk to Krug at 3:38 of the second — the Bruins roared back in the third.
They broke through, finally, at 2:44 of the period. It was not their best chance, not by a long shot, but it went in.
Reilly Smith did the honors, on a sharply angled shot from the right circle past a screen by Patrice Bergeron. The normally subdued Smith celebrated with a fist pump, and the TD Garden crowd responded with a roar.
And then, 6:30 into the period, the game was tied, and Krug was skating around the zone pounding the spoked-B on his chest. For Krug, it was his sixth career playoff goal in 21 games.
But the Bruins let up, as the Canadiens got a score from an unexpected source after a scramble in front of Rask — Francis Bouillon, who had just two goals in the regular season. That was followed by a Boychuk blast that, once again, tied the game, this time with just 1:58 to play.
It was on to overtime, and then to double overtime.
And then, after a goal that Rask called a “typical overtime goal,” it was the Bruins slinking off the ice having dropped Game 1 in their building to their rivals. But, amid the disappointment, was the knowledge that playing the way they played usually ends with a different result.
“We played a great game,” Rask said. “We can’t change anything except we’ve got to kill those penalties and I’ve got to keep the puck out of my net. That’s the only change we need.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.